SOMALIA: Insecurity restricting aid operations

Monday, July 2, 2007

Insecurity and violence in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are limiting the population’s ability to make a living and restricting aid agency operations, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

"An atmosphere of fear has intensified within the population of Mogadishu. Intimidation is obstructing the implementation of humanitarian activities," OCHA Somalia said in its latest report, issued on 22 June.

It said violence had intensified since the postponement of a national reconciliation conference that had been scheduled for 13 June. The conference is now scheduled for mid-July.

The announcement on 19 June by the government of an amnesty for insurgents has had no apparent effect on security in the city, OCHA said.

At least a dozen explosions and attacks on government targets have been recorded since 22 June, a local resident, who requested anonymity, said.

"Unfortunately, the amnesty does not seem to have persuaded those who are fighting," he said. He said civilians were often caught in the crossfire.

As of 20 June, the Protection Movement Tracking initiative estimated that at least 2,600 people had fled insecurity and violence in Mogadishu during June, according to OCHA.

However, despite the violence, at least 117,000 of the 400,000 people displaced from Mogadishu earlier this year had now returned, many from regions close to Mogadishu, such as Lower and Middle Shabelle.

Others returning from Dobley and Afmadow (Lower Juba region, near the Kenyan border) were being hampered by reported tensions in Kismayo, 500km south of Mogadishu, between two clans within the TFG forces.

OCHA said information collected from 238 roadblocks/checkpoints in south-central parts of the country indicated that humanitarian convoys were being delayed for two to three days on average.

"Passage fees are reported to range from US$20 to $500 per truck at checkpoints and roadblocks," OCHA added.

Source: IRIN